On Monday, one of the closest things to a coup attempt that this nation has ever seen officially ran aground. That afternoon, Michigan’s State Board of Canvassers certified that Joe Biden had flipped Michigan back to the Democratic column, resisting ham-handed efforts by Donald Trump to overturn Biden’s lead there. Also on Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rebuffed Trump’s attempt to toss out absentee ballots in sapphire-blue areas, all but assuring that Pennsylvania would certify Biden’s win there.
That night, Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration, acknowledged what the rest of the world already knew–Biden is president-elect. She issued a “letter of ascertainment” to the Biden transition team, allowing Biden access to federal agencies and special transition funds. With Trump continuing to make groundless claims of voter fraud, this letter is probably as close as we will get to an admission of defeat.
It had been obvious from the moment nearly every major news organization proclaimed Biden president-elect on November 7 that this coup attempt was doomed to failure. After all, it assumed that Trump’s diehard supporters, stirred up by a rash of 280-character tirades about voter fraud, would browbeat the media into backing down from their conclusions that Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin had all flipped. But journalistic integrity held.
So why did Trump continue what can only be described as a windmill-tilting expedition? Well, a large measure of the blame rests with Trump’s most diehard enablers on the religious right. The nation’s so-called moral guardians, with few exceptions, have told their flocks that God wants another term for Trump, and any results showing Biden ahead are a demonic trick.
In so doing, these pro-Trump ministers are complicit in an attack on the integrity of democracy. This is undoubtedly what historian and professor John Fea had in mind when he called Trump’s diehard evangelical supporters “court evangelicals“–evangelicals who have traded their faith for a place at the White House table. Fea warned that we shouldn’t expect these court evangelicals to realize that they’re propping up a gangster and reprobate any time soon, since “court evangelicalism blinds one to the truth.”
But in the aftermath of the election, a number of pro-Trump evangelicals have shown they aren’t just blinded to the truth, but actively promoting the lie. We got an example of this on Sunday from the family of one of Trump’s most ardent religious right supporters, Kenneth Copeland. Specifically, Copeland’s son-in-law, George Pearsons.
George pastors Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas alongside Copeland’s oldest daughter, Terri Pearsons. He also serves as CEO of his father-in-law’s ministry. In recent days, Terri and George have been among the most obnoxious promoters of the notion that Biden only won because of demonic influence. For instance, Terri prayed for new elections if needed to prevent the country from overturning God’s will that Trump get a second term. Not to be outdone, George issued a “heavenly cease and desist order” against Biden.
But on Sunday, George outdid even himself. During his sermon at Eagle Mountain, George showed his flock what appeared to be pictures of ballots being counted in Philadelphia. We saw these pictures fairly often while counting was underway.
As we now know, Biden flipped Pennsylvania back to the Democratic column on the strength of mail-in ballots. Indeed, the major news organizations called Pennsylvania–and the election–for Biden when it became apparent that Biden’s lead among mail-in ballots from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh was so large that Trump had no realistic path to hold onto the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes.
That was democracy in action. But if you believe Pearsons, it was evidence of fraud in plain sight–and Jesus would not have been pleased with it. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
While in his shirtsleeves, Pearsons told his congregation that when he first saw pictures of the ballots on the tables, God gave him a vision of Jesus “walking up and down those aisles” and flipping the tables over.
To swelling applause, Pearsons declared, “The tables are being turned over! The tables are being turned over!” To illustrate the point, he walked over to a table set up on the stage and flipped it over, sending the papers on it flying to wild applause. He then led the crowd in a chant of “Enough!” This scene was repeated at both services; watch the early service here and the late service here.
Pearsons was speaking in code–one that is readily apparent to this writer, a left-leaning charismatic Christian. The imagery he was using was reminiscent of what happened when Jesus walked into the Temple and saw it had been turned into a marketplace, complete with merchants and money changers.
As any well Sunday-schooled Christian knows, Jesus waded through the Temple and chased them out, flipping the money changers’ tables over along the way. In Matthew’s account of the event, Jesus then upbraided them for turning the temple into “a den of thieves.”
So unless I missed something, Pearsons was effectively saying that the counting of absentee ballots amounted to turning this election into a den of thieves–and Jesus was moving to effectively turn the tables over and give the election to his chosen one, Trump. In so doing, Pearsons was effectively calling the counting of ballots Satanic–at least if it didn’t result in Trump winning.
In so doing, Pearsons and the rest of the Copeland clan have become complicit in an attack on democracy. They are also using Eagle Mountain’s pulpit, and the Copeland name, to spread misinformation about the election. Neither of these are tolerable.
Moreover, the hypocrisy displayed here boils over. Trump diehards frequently claimed that an attack on Trump amounted to an attack on the 63 million people who voted for him. As of this writing, Biden’s vote total has grown to 80 million votes. By calling for the tables where ballots are being counted to be spiritually flipped over, Pearsons is effectively saying that a good chunk of those 80 million people should not have their votes counted. Considering that Michigan and Pennsylvania effectively derailed Trump’s coup attempt less than 24 hours after this sermon, one has to wonder if God was showing what he thinks of this kind of talk.
The Copeland clan hitched its wagon to Trump early on. Copeland is a major follower of the prosperity gospel, which made him a natural fit for a guy who is the definition of the entitled one-percenter. If there was any doubt that they must go down with him, this episode on Sunday erased it.
But we can start the process of holding Copeland to account right now. Report both of those videos to Facebook for spreading misinformation about voting. Pearsons is entitled to his own opinion, but he is not entitled to his own facts. His table appears to be the one that needs to be flipped over.
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